After five months for Martina and six months for me, it’s time to leave Antarctica as winter approaches. We’ve made many good friends and hope to continue our relationships here again in Antarctica. We’ve accumulated a lot of stuff from the “skua” bins and likewise, return it to be “recycled” again. We clean out our desks and workspaces, and finally our rooms, then “bagdrag” our big orange USAP bags to “MCC” the day before our final departure. It’s a beautiful day out at Pegasus Field as we board our C-17.
The military has done a great job logistically getting over 1500 of us back and forth across the southern oceans and to the South Pole itself. Here’s a glimpse of the cockpit of our C-17 and another of our passenger arrangements—quite comfortable actually.
The flight out for me is not without regret—the “Ice” has been a wonderful experience and I hope to return to accomplish other goals—perhaps the “ice road” to Pole or another Antarctic Base either as a part time dentist or as a scientist. Martina has had her fill cleaning up for others—quite understandable and I admire her ability to stick to her tasks without complaint. I can say that she has literally followed me to the “ends of the earth.” Now, it’s on to another adventure and some warmer climates.
New Zealand greets us with warmth, moisture, green grass and flower smells—after six months of pumice and glacial ice, this is a warm welcome indeed. We’re off to our favorite hotel to unload our gear and decompress—with a couple of beers at the Belgian Pub down the block. The next day we wander in the Arboretum and soak in the beauty of colors and smells. Of course we plan a great dinner with salads, fresh veggies and good wines which is to become the model for the next several weeks both here and Australia.
Next we purge the ice-demons out of our system with a good tree hug and then it’s on to Mt. Cook….
Milford Sound and on it goes up the West Coast to Abel Tasman Park, then the wineries of the Marlborough wine country and finally south down the Kaikura Coast back to Christchurch to the Banks Peninsula for a rest-up before the North Island….stay tuned!